Computer crashed? You could blame forces beyond our solar system



When your computer crashes or phone freezes, don’t be so quick to blame the manufacturer. Cosmic rays may be your real foe, or rather the electrically charged particles they generate.

While harmless to living organisms, a small number of these particles have enough energy to interfere with the operation of the microelectronic circuitry in our personal devices. It’s called a single-event upset or SEU.

During an SEU, particles alter an individual bit of data stored in a chip’s memory. Consequences can be as trivial as altering a single pixel in a photograph or as serious as bringing down a passenger jet.

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